Training Diary: Worm Guard Reflections

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This is what worm guard is supposed to look like (Vince Millett/Flickr)

So, I haven’t been training enough lately. I’ve been sick, and not wanting to plague rat my gym, and I’ve also been adjusting to a new work schedule. In that I’ve been working somewhere with a schedule. (Not unrelatedly, I also haven’t been super diligent about posting here.)

But I wanted to share a quick observation from the last couple times I’ve trained.

At some point when I wasn’t looking, I developed the ability to laugh off being bad at things. This has always been a struggle for me with BJJ, and life.

Traditionally, if I haven’t shown a natural aptitude for something, I’ve just stopped doing it. This is why I write for a living, and still do math at a fifth grade level. BJJ is arguably the first thing I’ve voluntarily stuck with in spite of not being good at it. But I still haven’t been good at not being good at it. I tend to respond to struggle with a sort of furious self-flagellation and self-loathing. I view not immediately getting something as a moral failure.

A few days ago, we were learning worm guard. Worm guard is a pretty complex guard that requires pretty good balance and core strength— neither of which I have in abundance—and also for you to keep track of a lot of different moves in sequence, which as someone with medium-strength ADHD, I find hard.

So, worm guard went about as well for me as you’d expect. I fell over a lot. I got stuck in a lot of weird positions. I’m not sure I ever actually executed the worm guard sweep my instructor was showing us. But what I didn’t do was get frustrated. I didn’t get mad at myself, or my training partner, or the world. I laughed. Because it was funny. I was upside down with my foot wrapped in another man’s gi. That’s funny. And not being able to sweep someone from worm guard isn’t the end of the world. Everyone who loved me before still loves me. This is just something I need to work on.

I don’t know if this attiudinal shift is permanent, or if it will apply to my life outside BJJ, but I’m happy it’s happening at all.

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